Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Our First Year of "Homeschool"

Well, we are just about done with our first year of unofficial homeschool with Nora. She has been doing the 2 Year Curriculum at ABCJesusLovesMe.com, and I think we've both been having a great time with it. With Nate (and Nora too), I've been using a book called Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready by June R. Oberlander, which has activities for each week that are developmentally appropriate for the child's age.

Let's start with Nora.

While she loved to listen to the ABC song on several of her toys that played it, she couldn't sing it herself. Part of that was language development, and part of it was just learning the song, I think. Fast forward to now: She not only sings the whole song by herself, but she recognizes over half of the capital letters, and several lower case letters. She can also write the letter "O."

I think she was beginning to grasp counting, as she would say "one, two, wee!" when grandma would play with her), but I don't think she understood the concept of what numbers represented. Now, she can count to 11 most days, and point and count to at least 7, but sometimes more. She recognizes 2 items right away without counting, but will often count them just because she can. She also knows her age and Nate's age.

She didn't know any colors or shapes before we started, but now knows all her colors (though she confuses pink and purple sometimes), and all her shapes.

Since we pray before our meals, she could kind of make the sign of the cross, but now she can make the sign correctly and say the whole prayer by herself. She has also learned several other prayers before bedtime. The Our Father, Hail Mary, Memorare, Angel of God, Come Lord Jesus, St. Michael the Archangel, and many others! She also knows the creation story, the Christmas story, and is learning about the Palm Sunday, and Jesus' Death and Resurrection. She also knows some memory versus to different tunes.

She has picked up quickly on lots of songs and finger plays, like "Red Light, Green Light," "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," and many more. Adam has also taught her a tap dance move that his mother taught them when they were kids called "Tick, Tock, Stomp."

When we started she called herself "No-wa" or "I-nor," but can now tell you her name is Eleanor Elisabeth. She can sometimes tell you what city she's from, but often gets that mixed up with her last name. She also knows the first names of her siblings and her parents.

About half way through the curriculum, I bought a large map for our office. This isn't part of the curriculum, but it's fun for her to "explore the world" from our office. I made magnets to go with one of their books called "Furry Friends." She can usually correctly place all the animals on the countries (or state) which they are from in the book (Alaska, Brazil, Scotland, South Africa, Russia, India, and Australia). I also made magnets with pictures of our family members that live out of state, so she can usually tell me what state they are in and put them there (Washington, Oregon, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and Minnesota).

While kids are always trying to be more independent and do things for themselves, here are things that we have specifically worked on getting Nora to do by herself: undress herself and put her dirty clothes down the chute, then dress herself (though sometimes articles of clothing end up backwards), pick up toys (with help and direction), wash her hands (especially now that Grandpa Jack made her a step stool, so she can reach!), and help set the table. We have always been working on manners as well, so Nora knows to say please, thank you, you're welcome, and excuse me, though she doesn't always remember. We are always working on improving these skills, but before we started she couldn't really do most of these things. A few things we haven't worked on are brushing her hair and her teeth, washing herself in the bathtub, helping to make her bed, and helping to clear the table after meals. She can kind of do some of these things, but since we haven't had her do it much, she hasn't gotten really good at any of them (expect maybe clearing the table when we ask, but it's pretty much like setting the table in reverse).

Of course all these things don't even put a dent in the list of things she's learned I'm sure (like being completely day time potty trained and almost night time potty trained)! But it's been so fun watching her grow and develop new skills and knowledge!

So, onto my little guy Nate...

We haven't really started any homeschooling with him, but have just been playing with him and teaching him all the things you teach a 1-year-old. He's learned to crawl, walk, climb, & scare Momma with new stunts while trying to follow his big sister or explore on his own. He wants to use a fork or spoon, and has actually been getting okay at using it, but he still prefers using his hands (it's much quicker and easier to stuff his mouth full that way!).

He has really started to develop his language skills more, which excites me! He signs more, eat, thirsty, please, and poop (toilet). He also says "ma" which can mean more or mine depending on what he's doing. He says "ma ma," "da da," and "ra ra" (Nora). One word he uses a lot that I'm not as much a fan of is "dis" (this) while pointing to something. I am trying to work on the actual words for the objects with him, but I'll take that he's communicating what he wants with me. And one of his new favorites is "ba" (ball), since he just got a couple wiffle balls for Easter. He can also tell you what a puppy (va va), sheep (baa), bear/ dinosaur (raa) say.

He may (or may not!) also have some understanding of the color blue. Though, whenever you ask him what color something is he says, "bue." But sometimes I will catch him pointing at something and saying "bue" and more often than not it's actually blue.

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